Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bajirao Mastani - director's cut!

On one hand we have the Maharashtrians, especially the Punekars, coming together, not like they do at 4pm outside Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, but this time with their pens as swords, to slam Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani.  On the other hand we have Bhansali and the film fraternity who stand by the movie in the name of ‘Creative liberty’. Whose side am I on? Doesn’t matter. No one cares. Will I watch the movie? Hell, yes! I have even watched Humshakals in the theater. My tolerance (a very popular word these days) for low IQ cinema is very high.  

Bhansali justifies that when the audience comes to watch his movie they would want entertainment and he is giving them just that (a biopic on Sunny Leone would have been more appropriate for that purpose, IMHO, but that’s besides the point). And then, this is his style – Grand sets, a love triangle and a dance sequence with the leading ladies. His movie should have that Bhansali stamp, right?!
So while I read the amusing WA and FB jokes on Bajirao Mastani (may their souls rest in peace), I wondered what would happen if other directors joined the bandwagon and decided to make their own version of the same story. Here’s my take.

Karan Johar – [Star cast: SRK, Kajol (Kashi), Kareena (Mastani).] Mastani is on a horse, ready to leave, but looking at Baaji, longingly. Kashi is holding Baaji’s hand firmly. The horse neighs. It’s time to leave. Baaji looks at Kashi with a ‘Kaashiji-mujhe-jane-do’ face. Kashi lets go. “Ja Baaji ja, jee le apni zindagi”. Baji sprints and jumps onto the horse and the two gallop into the far in slow motion as a beautiful mandolin piece plays in the background. Creative liberty hain bhai!

Anurag Kashyap – [Star cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Huma Qureshi (Kashi), Kalki (Mastani), Nawazuddin would have a special role – a fictional character that has been added on the pretext of artistic freedom].  80% of the movie will be shot in the dark in the natural lights of the glowing lanterns with sounds of crickets in the background. Bajirao’s mother Radhabai and Kashibai meet in the darkness of the Wada. The ever increasing influence of Mastani is worrying them. Kashibai is infuriated and in a weak moment bursts out, oblivious as she stands in front of her mother-in-law. The non-Marathi audience in educated with a series of Marathi cuss words being spit out like venom. ‘Tujhya ....chi, …chi, ..chi’ chichichi Kashi chirps on. Mastani canot live, they both agree. “Keh ke lenge”, they say with clenched fists. The screen becomes dark. Creative liberty hain bhai!

Suraj Barjatya – [Star cast: Salman (who else?), Kareena (Kashi), Sonam Kapoor (Mastani), Reema
Lagoo (Radhabai), Anupam Kher (Balaji Vishwanath), Sanskaari Alok Nath (Chatrasaal) with Renuka Shahane, Mohnish Behl, Bindu, Himani Shivpuri… I could go on ]. Barjatya declares he is making a sequel to his 1994 blockbuster and calls his new movie – ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun Firse Batao’. And wait, hold your breath - Instead of one wedding, audiences would now be treated to two. The first half would be the wedding of Baajirao and Kashi. After the intermission, the second would be the wedding of Baajirao and Mastani.  And mind you, you poor Marathi people from humble backgrounds, if you have issues with Bhansali’s grand portrayal of the Peshwas, wait till you watch Barjatya’s set of the Peshawe Wada. Bharjatya’s set would make the descendants of the Peshhwa’s wonder where all that money went. (The movie will go on floors as soon as Barjatya recovers from the loss of PRDP.)

Ram Gopal Verma – He was last seen doing the rounds of Shaniwar wada, to gather content for the film. The chowkidar mistook him to be the ghost of Narayanrao and ran for his life. Disheartened, RGV left. Thank god or “Kaka, amhala vachva” (“Save us, uncle”), is what the audience would have to say.

Sajid Khan – Are you still reading this?

“So is there no one who could do justice to this biopic?” I thought somberly. I thought of Rajkumar Hirani. But he has burned his lips once and refuses to delve into any sensitive topic, be it mythological or historical. Sunju will be available soon, so he’ll probably just play it safe with Munna Bhai Part 3. Then Zoya Akhtar? She said she loved the script, but Farhan was busy. Ashutosh Gowarikar? -  Is he still around?

Finally!! Hallelujah - Amir Khan, the perfectionist. How did I not think of him before? He would probably be the only one to do it right. Alas - he is leaving the country! ;)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why I refuse to be called an immigrant

“America is a land of immigrants”, they say. About Dubai they say “It’s a land of expats”.  I would think immigrants and expatriates were synonyms. Until now. The Oxford dictionary defines an immigrant as someone who comes to live permanently in a foreign country. An expatriate on the other hand is someone who lives outside his native country. The main difference you would think is the thought of being ‘permanent’. Could be. Yet, I see so many Indians returning back from America, either willfully or just because their visa had expired. On the other hand I know of many Indians living in Dubai for close to 20 years.

The H1 and L1 visas are called non-immigrant visas. That itself takes away the ‘permanency’ from the word. If they are not intended for permanent immigration why are they not called ‘expat’ visas? Could there be a racist connotation, I wondered? Looks to me, there is. When white folk/westerns work outside their country they are called expats. When Asians/Africans work outside their country they are called immigrants. Now that sounded like a more correct (yet unfair) definition.  

When I utter the word immigration, the thoughts that come to mind are ‘cross border illegal immigration’, ‘Cramped boats waiting for relief on foreign shores’, ‘cheap labor’ and ‘visa woes’. When I utter ‘expatriate’ what comes to  mind are ‘Plush expatriate colonies’, ‘expat wives shopping at malls flashing their Louis Vuittons’ and ‘a lot of pampering in general’.

I can decorate the word with feel-good adjectives like ‘highly skilled’ or ‘professional’, but the fact is I would still be an immigrant and I would still not be guaranteed permanency! Unfair, don’t you think?

(A cartoon on US immigration, from a website related to women and finance.)

(An image in an article on 'Expat living in Singapore' in The Telegraph.)